I awoke to the sound of robin and blackbird at 4.45am. I have always struggled to sleep beyond dawn during the Summer months; bird song is my alarm clock. Most of the time this is a blessing, but I will admit that midsummer can get quite tiring! The sudden screaming of swifts especially, can literally have me awake and leaping out of bed in seconds! My swift scrambles.
Ptolemy and I set off before dawn, for a walk around Gilling Woods. We were greeted by another frost, but the sun rose in a clear sky and soon added its warmth to our backs as we walked West. A pair of green woodpeckers flew up in front of us, immediately making themselves invisible in the wood. We nibbled at wood sorrel leaves as we climbed higher up the escarpment. The number of singing blackcaps mounted up quickly and the species would become the most frequently heard on the walk. Chiffchaffs gave them a run for their money and were also frequently encountered.
As we walked towards the Scar we were afforded some fine views across to Ampleforth Abbey, the East side of its tower illuminated by sunlight. At an area of clear-fell we heard and then saw our first tree pipit of the Spring. We watched it display and listened to its gorgeous song. Ptolemy spotted his primary school in Ampleforth village, so near and yet now so far.
Walking back East into the chilly wind, frost still covered the ground, weather colder than most Winter days this year. We were looking forward to a hot drink and breakfast on our return now.
Now is the time to savour blackbird song. The males are very territorial and they sing often. On fine days they sing at any time of day, but always at dawn and dusk. Many people cite blackbird song as their favourite and I couldn’t argue. There is a leisurely pace to its rich, fluty notes that is dream-like. So go out tonight at dusk and just listen and immerse yourself in blackbird song.
Watching a tree pipit.